BookBaby Insights for Self-Publishing Authors
Stephen Spatz, president of BookBaby, a service provider for independent authors, carried out a survey in 2017 to ask over 5,000 self-published authors about what are they writing, how they publish, what services they use, what they do to market and promote their books and what they attribute their success to. He spoke about this at the Author HQ at the London Book Fair in 2017 and some interesting facts emerged that apply to anyone thinking about either self-publishing using the traditional publishing routes, or both.
Briefly, 50% publish fiction compared to almost 15% who publish non-fiction, and about 32% who publish both and the spread of topics for self-publishers can be seen below.
Of those who are currently published, the group was split by book earnings of up to $100 (less successful) in the last 12 months and those who earned $5000+ (354 authors, very successful). The high earners were then asked what they attribute their success to, and the results are eye-opening as you can see from the image below. The biggest difference was that those published authors who earned over $5000 in book sales in 2016 used other professional services a lot more than those who earned under $100. The biggest game changers were hiring professional editing services and a professional book cover designer. Of course, this shouldn’t be a surprise as the quality of content and the visual appearance of books are often the biggest factors readers base their purchasing decisions on.
On the marketing front, successful authors used promotional activities a lot more than unsuccessful ones, with the biggest differences coming from pre-sale awareness building, holding a book launch event and offering giveaways for readers to expand their reader base. Lower earners did not do this as much.
While this is primarily a US market survey, Spatz did state that approximately 20% of the respondents were global, so these results may only apply to the North American market that has embraced self-publishing with a little more fervor than European and other world counterparts. Nevertheless, the results are food for thought for any writers thinking about how to maximise the success of any books they publish. They key definers for book success are professional editing and book cover design with a solid array of promotional activities. Full details for the survey can be found here.
If you are a self-published writer or thinking about publishing, have you or would you consider using an editor and a professional book designer? If so, leave your comments below!